American Horror Story
We are now over halfway through this season, and boy, are the grits hitting the fan. This episode was written by co-creator Brad Falchuk, and he injected it with his usual mixture of humor, awe, and dark, dark tomfoolery.
Axeman Bourdain and Fiona are taking their relationship to the next level — or, at least, to the apartment of a porkpie-hat–wearing piano player who the Axeman has disposed in the apartment’s bathtub. Over bourbon and jazz music, the Axeman explains that a typical musician in the olden days was “poor, indigent, and had to be content being a backdoor man.” (This sounds like my present days.) He quotes As I Lay Dying: “The reason for living is to get ready to stay dead for a long time.” “You’re not just any broke-down sax man; you’re a college-educated one. Are you James Franco?” replies Fiona (emphasis mine).
Fiona continues to find patches of her hair falling out and resists the Axeman. But he continues to “Hot damn!” his way into her good graces until the two kiss passionately. Fiona pulls away, claiming that she only pursued him because she was out of sleeping pills. She calls herself “a wretched human being,” with three ex-husbands and ruined relationships all around. But the Axeman persists, proffering “good, old-fashioned sex” by way of his highly oral saxophone skills. “You’re good at this,” Fiona allows, and then they proceed to have axeman-witch sex until a lightbulb bursts. Isn’t that just the way?
The next morning, the Axeman confesses: Having been confined as a ghost at the Academy, he has been watching over Fiona since she was eight. At first seeing her as the daughter he never had, he once made a gigantic sideboard fall on Helen, an older witch who was bullying Fiona. (“I knew I didn’t do it!” Fiona exclaims.) But the Axeman’s feelings for her became complicated as she proved herself “no hothouse orchid.” “You call that a seduction, huh?” Fiona snarls, explaining that pointing out a woman’s aging process is not exactly the most effective mating call. She also says that she doesn’t believe in ghosts. (Which — what? You’re a witch.) Soon, while studying herself in the mirror at home, Fiona makes to shave her head — but unlike Samantha Jones before her, she stops herself. She returns to the club to buy the Axeman a drink. (“Do you believe in life after coven?” — AHS: Cher)
Madison is feeling very existential these days, unfurling a monologue about millennials and ascribing her “numbness to the world” to the entitlement that her generation embodies. “Hell, I was gang-raped, and two days later, I was back in class like nothing happened.” “Class” might be an overstatement at Miss Robichaux’s School for Kitchen Chatter. “How can anything be worse than this eternal silence inside of me?” she says, quoting the set of this show because where in holy swampwater springs is Patti LuPone?
In flashback, we see that Kyle once had a bright future in mind. While fangirling to Toto’s “Rosanna” and overseeing the unfortunate tattooing of his frat brothers at a nearby parlor, he said that, after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina, he wanted to become a civil engineer. But obviously, Madison’s vengeful spell has intervened, and now Kyle, made of his frat boys’ appendages, is saddled with the gaudy shamrock and Chinese characters of their choosing. That’s brutal, bro.
Zoe, wielding Madison’s pistol, approaches her chain-bound beau with the intent to shoot him, but FrankenKyle, easily swiping the gun from her, puts the barrel into his mouth. Zoe stops him. Later, while Zoe tries to give FrankenKyle an ESL class on how to communicate — FrankenKyle eating oatmeal like he’s in Beauty and the Beast — Madison shows up, telling Zoe, “Cordelia wants to see you. Well, that would be impossible, but she does want to talk.” While Zoe is away, Madison, conveniently remembering how she helped make FrankenKyle, praises “the best parts” that she picked out for him, then underscores their common bond now that they have both died. Thus, like the Jenners long ago, two people who are equally dead inside fall for each other. Later, when Zoe returns, she finds FrankenKyle, rump re-exposed, slamming Madison against an armoire. “How embarrassing!” chimes the actual Armoire from Beauty and the Beast.
But all is not lost: When Zoe emerges from the shower, Madison confesses that sex with FrankenKyle is the first time that she’s felt truly alive since her death. “You brought the dude back to life; you must like him a little,” Madison says, to which Zoe deadpans, “I brought you back, too.” In fact, given Zoe’s Death Star, Madison thinks that sex with dead people might be her only option. So Zoe is led to bed, where Kyle and Madison both reach their hands out to her. The camera pans down to their feet, where Zoe’s towel falls before she climbs aboard. Now showing: Threesome 2: Dead Man’s Chest.
Hank, who owns as many guns as Ted Nugent, calls Delia “in tears.” Afterwards, while fumbling around in the night, Delia (starting to look like a Buffy vampire) almost falls down the stairs until she grasps onto Madison. Now, via her Sight, Delia learns not only that Madison is revived but that Fiona killed her. She tells Zoe, “Fiona Goode has been on the same side her whole life — her own,” sounding like Madonna in Dick Tracy. “If she even thinks you’re next, you’re next.” Delia proposes that they finally do away with Fiona: “Kill her once; kill her good; kill her dead.” When did Delia start working for Orkin?
Zoe ties Spalding up in a Kung Fu Panda getup because, in the same space where she discovered the spirit board, she has found Spalding’s severed tongue, still viable under Myrtle’s enchantment. Using a spell that mimics a Quickfire on Top Chef, Zoe does what even Myrtle couldn’t do: She places the tongue into Spalding’s mouth, where it restores his speech — but only truthful speech. Zoe, rightly suspecting that Spalding cut out his own tongue years ago to absolve Fiona, yells, “Say the name!” Instead of “Beyoncé,” he yells, “Fiona Goode,” swearing eternal loyalty to her. After all, his family has served ten generations of the coven. “She’s not your Supreme, Spalding. She’s your employer,” Zoe mutters before stabbing Spalding directly in the chest. If only there were a corpse orgy that dead Spalding could join. Oh, wait …
There’s nothing to eat in the house, so new besties Queenie and Delphine make a late-night trip to Frostop’s. Delphine says that it’s the best food that she’s had in her insanely long life, then says, “I’m starting to understand why you’re so enormous.” Queenie: “I dragged my ass all the way here from Detroit to be with my, quote, ‘sister witches,’ and instead, I’m sitting in a fast food parking lot at three in the morning with an immortal racist.” (Ten points, Falchuk.) Delphine says that the other witches will never see Queenie as their sister because she is black, though Queenie remains doubtful of this.
Queenie visits a gumbo-preparing Marie Laveau, who croaks that the Salem witches probably serve “Shake ’n Bake and watermelon for dessert.” Queenie reasserts that her skin color has nothing to do with their treatment, but Laveau insists on the opposite — and reveals to Queenie that Fiona was the one who dug up Delphine. Laveau offers Queenie a home among her fellow voodoo witches, the price of admission being Delphine herself.
Queenie, skeptical, then finds out the incident for which Delphine is most contrite: she killed the newborn bastard child of a slave and her cheating husband as the base for her nightly blood poultice. Queenie is horrified, but Delphine insists that she is learning the grave errors of her ways. “It wasn’t only a different time; it was a different world,” she says solemnly. “I’m grateful to have someone, a true friend, to guide me.”
Hold up, ‘Phinie. Queenie tricks her into visiting Cornrow City under the pretense of getting a new haircut while Delphine wears a hideous tiger T-shirt — but it is into Laveau’s clutches that Queenie delivers her. After having confined Delphine to a cage, Laveau asks Queenie to make the first cut so that Laveau might apply her “Retin-A.” And so we end with Laveau, assuming Delphine’s skincare pose from the premiere, as she spreads Delphine’s blood around her already flawless face.
Is this really the end of Spalding? Was that Delphine’s pancreas, or just blood? Is the Axeman truly smitten with Fiona, or is it a trick? All I know is that I’ve never craved anything like I do a strawberry cyclone with Kathy Bates.